Local News

Perdue wants plan to restructure Highway Patrol

Posted July 7, 2010 3:22 p.m. EDT
Updated July 8, 2010 4:43 p.m. EDT

— Gov. Beverly Perdue said Wednesday she wants an immediate restructuring plan for the state Highway Patrol in light of a growing string of misconduct cases involving state troopers.

“That small percentage that we read or hear about every day are killing the image of the patrol,” Perdue said Wednesday. “A few can destroy the many and I’m going to work as hard as I can to fix it.”

Perdue met with 160 ranking members of the Highway Patrol on Wednesday afternoon.

"I will not let the Highway Patrol of North Carolina be diminished," she told the media following the meeting. "We will fire the bad troopers as quickly as we can. We will hold the first sergeants and the leadership of the patrol accountable."

Perdue said she has asked Department of Crime Control and Public Safety Secretary Reuben Young and Col. Randy Glover, the commander of the patrol, to develop a plan to restructure the patrol. That report is due in 60 days.

"There are many changes that will be made," Perdue said.

In addition, Perdue is requiring ethics training for all state troopers and management training for first sergeants and above. Following training, all troopers and leadership will be required to sign a code of conduct oath.

Perdue has also urged patrol leadership to get out in the field "do it the old-fashioned way and find out what is going on."

Glover and Young will also be traveling the state meeting with troops in every district to find out what problems exist, she said.

Perdue and Glover, the commander of the patrol, had previously issued a zero-tolerance policy for trooper misconduct.

A number of troopers and patrol officers have been disciplined or fired in recent years for offenses that included profiling young women for traffic stops, drunken driving, animal abuse and having sex on duty.

Last month, the State Bureau of Investigation launched a probe into the activities of a trooper after a Raleigh woman alleged that he exposed himself to her in his patrol car.

Also last month, the longtime spokesman for the agency resigned amid an internal investigation into text messages he sent to a co-worker.

The misconduct cases have rocked the Highway Patrol's image, and Glover issued a memo to troopers in May saying that he would deal with anyone who embarrasses the patrol.

Following the two-hour meeting with Perdue on Wednesday, Young announced immediate changes for the Highway Patrol, including an increase in sexual harassment and ethics training from experts outside of the patrol.

Other changes:

  • Review internal personnel policy to better reflect the law.
  • Re-organization and re-deployment of members from patrol headquarters to the field.
  • Patrol members disciplined with less than a dismissal will be required to take additional training pertinent to the offense committed and be subject to increased monitoring by supervisors.
  • Supervisors will be required to spend more time with members under their supervision, including riding with them.
  • All members will be required to live within the county of assignment.
  • All communications records for state issued cell phones and BlackBerrys will be maintained consistent with record retention policy.
  • Increase the number of in-car cameras and establish a systematic review of them by supervisors.

Political watchdog Joe Sinsheimer said Perdue’s new "get tough" approach stops short of solving what he described as a cultural problem within the patrol.

“The proof is in the pudding. We need change at the top of the Highway Patrol and the governor had a leadership test today and she failed it," he said.